Directed by: David F. Sandberg
Written by: Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan
2019’s Shazam! Gave us a much lighter and fun take on the superhero with almost every power at their disposal, but with a kid being the one possessing these powers. Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and Shazam (Zachary Levi) did a great job bringing the awe of possessing superpowers and the naivety of still being a young person in a superhero body. The first film did a good job reflecting the story of foster kids in foster homes and by the end of the first film all of the foster kids became superheroes. Needless to say, a sequel is expected to bring us the continuation of the story with the entire family fighting to save the world.
Here comes the spoilers.
The film opens with beautiful shots of Athens Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. Two mysterious figures wearing ancient solider armor walks up to the case containing a broken magical staff and they reveal themselves to be daughters of Atlas, Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso Lucy Liu). They take the staff while killing all the tourists by turning them to statues. In Philadelphia, Billy Batson and his foster brothers and sisters are all doing their own thing and Billy rallies them to go save people on a bridge before it collapses. They regroup afterwards at the Rock of Eternity to go over the event and see how they can do better. This is when each member shows lack of interest and they are more concerned about their own personal interests. This leads Billy to push harder for them all to stick together and by pushing so hard indirectly pushes them all away. Billy gets called out for his fear of abandonment. As a foster kid he had to deal with his parents abandoning him and as he is soon to become 18 years old he fears by aging out of foster care he will not have a home anymore. This theme of abandonment and siblings drifting apart was never fully developed because the writers had way too much going on and rushed the dynamics here.
The daughters of Atlas are then revealed to be three and not just two. With their younger sister Anthea who is posing as a high school student and crosses paths with Freddy. Freddy has a disability and uses a walking crutch, and when bullied he stands up to them and earns the respect of Anne (Anthea). He takes Anne to the school rooftop to impress her with him knowing a superhero (which is himself). Suddenly Hespera and Kalypso appear and steal Freddy’s power. Shazam and the other siblings fly to his rescue, but the daughters of Atlas fly away leaving the city covered in an impenetrable dome. Shazam and the other siblings go back to the Rock of Eternity and in a magical library to consult a magical pen named Steve who seems to have all knowledge and information. They have Steve send a letter to the daughters of Atlas requesting a trade for Freddy. During the meetup to discuss a trade they end up fighting and capturing Hespera. They imprison her in a cell at the Rock of Eternity, but unbeknownst to them that was her plan to get a seed of life which was contained within an apple they tossed around in the library. She takes it and escapes.
The next several scenes are just as predictable as anyone could imagine. One of the sisters turns on the other and tries to destroy earth. Billy has to reveal to his foster parents who he really is and makes a sacrifice to save his family. The film rushes the ending and spends way too much time on flying through fire sequences and placing gratuitous advertising for Skittles for anyone to care (seriously “Taste the Rainbow”). It becomes a laughingstock of a film and quite frankly I am at a loss of how to make this film better. The villains were never shown how their lives were lived for thousands of years watching the humans take over the earth. No empathy there. No time to fully showcase what each and every member of the family was dealing with. For one character he is hinted at being gay, but when he comes out to his family they are all like “yeah we know”, and right there a tremendous moment is wasted. Every theme they hinted at was never fully delivered upon. Therefore I cannot even provide a way to improve this film other than to spend an extra 8 minutes of film time delivering on these themes.
Although I felt the first film had some potential and had its heart in the right place, this film misses that heart by a long shot. The danger gets turned into a farce and the stakes are never raised to a level where an audience can care about any character or relationship. Even the level of campiness and PG-13 rating, this film just falls flat. Too much going on and a too neat of a bow tie ending. No consequences. No real stakes at hand. No complex emotional themes delivered. Just a waste of film and great actors like Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu. The two writers should be banned from ever writing again for the DC Universe.
Thanks for reading Writing Movie “WRONGS.”
Writing Movie Wrongs (MovieWrongs.com) was created by Author Jim West to show how great storytelling is built on strong writing. In each review, he aims to highlight points in film that capture what the medium is capable of, or provide feedback on small improvements that would make a huge difference to the story’s plot. Read more about Jim West at JimWestAuthor.com.